Will a big win make you happier?

What if you didn’t just dream you’d won Tattslotto, but really did. Would you be happier? Would it change your life for the better?

To further fuel those dreams, we offer the following information from Canstar.

Who tells you about your win?
That depends on how and where you bought your ticket. The Lott says that if you have registered your ticket, and the winnings are big enough (division one or two), they will contact you. Smaller wins are communicated via email.

For winners without a registered account, the options include going back to where they bought their ticket, visiting their nearest the Lott sales outlet (such as a newsagent), or going to one of the Lott’s offices. The Lott says it’s also possible to claim the prize by post. Each state and territory has its own rules and deadlines to claim a prize range from six months to seven years.

If you are lucky enough to get the call that you’ve won big, international lottery aggregator Lottoland suggests your first reaction is likely to be one of shock.

“Shock comes first, then joy, but also nerves and fear, a sense of the unknown, and sadness, mixed in for no apparent reason,” a spokesperson said.

There’s scientific evidence that many lottery winners don’t make rash decisions. A study in the Journal of Gambling Studies that focused on a group of 261 Norwegian winners found that “emotional reactions to winning were few, aside from moderate happiness and relief”.

It found that most winners emphasised caution and emotional control, paying debts and sharing with children.

“There was only a slight increase in economic spending,” the study’s authors said. “A wish for anonymity was frequent, together with fear of envy from others. Experiences with winning were predominantly positive. Life quality was stable or had improved.”

Continue working or quit?
A study published in The Journal of Psychology found, unsurprisingly, that winners’ decisions on whether to stay employed depended on how much they loved their job and how much they had won.

A different study, about the Swedish lottery and published in the University of Nevada, Las Vegas’ Gaming Research and Review Journal, found that after big wins, fewer than 12 per cent quit their jobs. Winners were more likely to change their working hours, with 24 per cent taking unpaid full-time leave and 16 per cent changing their hours. Surprisingly, the majority – 62 per cent – stayed in a full-time job.

“Large windfalls do not generally undermine lottery winners’ willingness to get an income from work,” the study found. “However, the size of the winnings had a substantial impact on people’s decisions to take unpaid full-time leave and to reduce working hours.”

Research also showed the need to consider the long-term impact of a big win. A study published in the American Economic Review found that “unearned income reduces labour earnings”, which is fine if you win really big and can live off your investments. But it could be a problem if the sum is not sufficient to support you over a long period. The study also found that on average the winners surveyed saved only about 16 per cent of their prize pool.  

Get quality financial advice, says Lottoland, “before making any large announcements” about the win. Large and unexpected wins can change many aspects of a person’s life and may require changes to wills and other legal documents and arrangements, it says.  

The Lott adds that “many winners chose to let the emotional dust settle by putting their money into a long-term deposit, while they formulate a plan on how to use it wisely”.

“Part of that plan usually involves seeking out financial advice to ensure the prize will have a long-term positive impact on the lives of the winner and their loved ones.”

Does winning the lottery make you happier? 
How much money a person wins has an impact on how happy they will be in the long run.

A British study of people who collected medium-sized lottery wins (between £1000 and £120,000) found that winning money may make you happy – or at least happier than you were going to be without the win. The study, published in the Journal of Health Economics, found that when compared to people who didn’t win any money, those who did showed “significantly better psychological health” two years after the win.

However, that’s not always the case, the study warned.

Playing the lottery is a form of gambling, and that can come with a wide range of risks – including the potential for gambling addiction.

The Australian government’s Health Direct website says that the signs of a gambling addiction may include:

  • feeling a constant need to gamble with more money, more often
  • repeated unsuccessful attempts to stop gambling
  • using gambling as a coping mechanism to deal with anxiety or depression, or
  • lying to cover up your behaviour around gambling.

Anyone with concerns about gambling should contact Lifeline by phoning 13 11 14 or call the Gambling Help service on 1800 858 858.

Have you dreamt of a big lottery win? Are you convinced it would make you happier?

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How to make the most of a windfall
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Written by Janelle Ward

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